Azerbaijan Says Captured 2nd Biggest Karabakh City, Armenia Denies
Shusha holds strategic and cultural significance for both the countries.
President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan announced on Sunday, 8 November, that his country’s forces had captured Shusha, the second-largest city in the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave. However, officials from Armenia denied this, according to Reuters.
Ngorno-Karabakh is a mountainous enclave that is internationally recognised as a part of Azerbaijan, but is mostly populated and controlled by ethnic Armenians. Shusha is located south of this enclave’s biggest city, Stepanakert, and hold strategic and cultural significance for both the countries.
In his announcement, President Aliyev said: “(This day) will become a great day in the history of Azerbaijan.”
The announcement came after thousands of troops had died in nearly six weeks of conflict around the Karabakh region. However, in Baku, Azeris came together in huge numbers to celebrate the seizure of Shusha. They shouted slogans and waved flags.
In Armenia, officials from the Defence Ministry denied Aliyev’s statement, calling Shusha an “unattainable pipe dream” for the Azeris.
“Shushi remains an unattainable pipe dream for Azerbaijan. Despite heavy destruction, the fortress city withstands the blows of the enemy.”Nagorno-Karabakh Rescue Service
The country of Azerbaijan also has Turkish support during the cruellest conflict in the South Caucasus since the previous war over the Karabakh territory in the 1990s.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said: “I congratulate my Azeri brothers' Shusha victory. I believe (it) is a sign that the rest of the occupied lands will be liberated soon too,"
Both Shusha and Stepanakert have come under Azeri assault in the past couple of days, however the Defence Ministry has made sure to imply that the allegations of Azeri forces shelling civilian areas is just ‘misinformation’.
For Armenians, Shusha is the site of Karabakh’s cathedral, but its population was predominantly made up of Azeris before the conflict in the 90s.
(With inputs from Reuters)
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